When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Iran: Video Of Smiling Man With Beheaded Wife Shines Light On "Honor Killings"

The beheading of a 17-year-old in southern Iran by her husband, who then paraded her head through the streets and on social media, has prompted Iranians to accuse the clerical regime of encouraging such acts through systematic misogyny.

File photo of women walking in Ahvaz, Iran, where the killing took place

File photo in Ahvaz, Iran, where the killing took place

Kayhan London

Horrific footage has been circulating this week online of a smiling man displaying the severed head of his 17-year-old wife in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz, beheaded for supposed "disobedience" after she'd tried to flee to Turkey.

The victim was reportedly murdered on Feb. 5 in what the local prosecutors have termed an "honor killing", allegedly perpetrated by the woman's husband and his brother. Police apprehended both men the same day.

Abbas Hosseini-Puya, chief prosecutor of the Ahvaz district, said the the victim's father had first brought his daughter back to Iran from Turkey where she had reportedly fled. When the husband realized she was in Ahvaz, he tracked her down and carried out the gruesome murder, before parading her decapitated head in his neighborhood as someone recorded on a telephone.

Shocking public opinion

Hosseini-Puya said authorities would seek out those who had recorded images "shocking to public opinion." In addition to the murder itself, he said, "beheading this woman in public is itself a crime."

The website Rokna, which posted the video, faces possible penalties for an "attack on public morale." A Rokna editor tweeted in response that blocking such images "will not end honor killings." The website, he added, simply posted what others had already seen on social media.

The victim, named as Mona Heidari, was reportedly married off at the age of 12, though her father told Fars news agency that there was no forced marriage. The couple had a three-year-old son.

Cropped screenshot of the video showing the man smiling as he parades his wife's head through the streets of Ahvaz

Website blocked

The incident has indeed shocked Iranians. Many social media users wrote they would neither watch nor post the pictures. Others have accused the Islamic Republic's laws of favoring male authority at home. Hashtags used on Twitter included "Taliban", "Talibanism", "Anti-female Laws", "Right to Life" or "Child Brides".

Iran's current government has made no secret of its commitment to would-be family values. President Ebrahim Raisi has said that courts in Iran should not fast-track even consensual divorces, and that in general, divorce should not be made easy. Indeed, such crimes are often perpetrated by men in a bid to prevent a looming divorce.

Laws on women's rights

Mona Heidari has thus joined the list of other recent female victims of male ire including Rumina Ashrafi, 14, Mobina Suri, 16, Somayyeh Fathi, 18 and Fatemeh Borhi, 19. The perpetrators are typically punished with a few years in jail or a fine.

Iranians lashed out online, accusing the regime of being ultimately responsible for such crimes, because of its permissiveness toward male violence and the misogyny it foments.

The timing is also a cruel coincidence: close to the 43rd anniversary of the 1979 revolution on Friday. As one of the first acts of the revolution's leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the state abolished the Law to Protect the Family and all other laws protecting women's rights.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A "Third Rome": How The Myth of Russian Supremacism Fuels Putin's War

Tracing the early roots of the concept of the "Russian world" that sees the Russian state as eternal and impervious to change. Its primary objective is the establishment of a robust national state, a realm of expansionism where autocracy is the only form of governance possible.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives a gala reception at the Grand Kremlin Palace

Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives a gala reception at the Grand Kremlin Palace

Alexei Nikolsky/TASS/ZUMA
Vazhnyye Istorii


Looking back at the start of the 16th century, the Grand Duchy of Moscow had emerged victorious over its Orthodox rivals, including principalities such as Tver and the Novgorod Republic. At the time, a significant portion of the eastern Slavic lands was under Catholic Lithuania's control.

So, how did Moscow rise to prominence?

On the surface, Moscow appeared to fill the void left by the Mongolian Golden Horde. While Moscow had previously collected tributes from other principalities, it now retained these resources for itself. There was an inclination for Muscovy to expand further eastward, assimilating fragments of the Genghisid empire. However, aligning the descendants of ancient Rus’ with the heirs of Genghis Khan would necessitate a fundamental shift in the state's identity. This was particularly complex due to the prevalent ideology built around religion, with the Tatar khans, unlike the Russian princes, adhering to Islam.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

In the early 16th century, a Pskov monk named Philotheus introduced a new idea: that Moscow represented the "third Rome."

According to Philotheus, the first Rome had succumbed to Latin heresy (Catholicism), and the second, Constantinople, had fallen to Turkish conquest. He believed Moscow was now the capital of the only Orthodox state remaining in the world. Philotheus presented his worldview to Grand Duke Vasily III, advocating for the unification of all Christian kingdoms into one.

The descendants of ancient Rus’ sought to trace their lineage back to Prus, the legendary brother of the first Roman emperor Augustus Octavian, establishing a link between Russia and the first Rome. Even though historical evidence doesn't support these claims, Ivan IV, better known as Ivan the Terrible, proudly asserted his connection to Augustus Octavian. He took the concept of the third Rome very seriously and became the first Russian ruler to take on the title of the tsar.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest